What if we could celebrate Valentine's Day in a whole different way? What if, instead of celebrating whether or not we have someone to take us out to dinner, we celebrated all the love we have ever felt in our lives, all the love we have yet to feel and all the love we could feel today -- if we allowed it?
If you are in a relationship, make today all about him or her. Lavish gifts, attention and appreciation -- but not for show. Make it real. Include lots of gazing into her eyes to see if you can connect with the very essence of this precious being (but stop just short of being annoying). Include slow dancing in your kitchen, whether or not music is playing. Add in something homemade, like a pie or an instagram or a poem you wrote about his face in the morning. Make a playlist of songs that remind you of her kisses.
If you aren't in a relationship, make every being you encounter today into a loved one. No, not that kind; make them into the kind where you think about what is on their mind, whether or not they tell you and try to do something thoughtful. For example, you could laugh with them at what they find funny or cry with them over what makes them sad. Ask yourself this: "What is going on for this person, and how could I lighten their load a teeny bit, whether or not I have any idea what they're talking about?"
And if your heart is broken, then you're in the best shape of all for a day of love because all you have is love. It may feel like pain and longing (and sure, it is), but it's also something else: love itself, unbound from an object. You know this is you when you feel everything -- your own sorrow and the sorrow of others, and also their joy. So even though it can be a bit disorienting, let your openness work for you by agreeing that, just for today, you're going to use your super powers of empathy to do good for others. And see what happens next.
Make it a day of love. Be a love ninja. Here are some suggestions:
- Write a note about why you love a particular book and how you hope it will benefit the person who buys it. Then go to a bookstore, sneak note into book, leave.
- Log on to three blogs you read frequently and leave a comment expressing your love for the writer or the subject. Go into detail without being weird.
- Write an anonymous note appreciating your barista; leave it for him/her without creeping him/her out.
- Make five $10 donations (or 10 $500 donations, whatever you can afford) to charities that combat illnesses effecting people you know. Do it anonymously.
- Give something to every homeless person you see, whether it's 50 cents, $20, a bagel with cream cheese or simply your unspoken good wishes, heart to heart.
- Tell someone you work with that you think they're doing a great job, whether or not you work together directly. Mean it. (Only say it if it's true.)
- Find the address of the creator of your favorite song, painting, poem or other work of art. Write a letter to the artist (or their estate, agency or other representative) expressing exactly what this piece of work has meant to you. Mail it.
OK, that's my list. What do you suggest? Post your idea here and/or on Twitter. Include the hashtag #dayoflove.